As a business owner, the prospect of a pandemic that affects many global economies and potentially the day-to-day running of your business can feel daunting. It can be tricky to know how, and where, to lead your business.
In this post, I discuss how to successfully manage your clients during COVID-19, how to protect your team and how the virus has affected my own business.
1. Be there for your team
Your employees are the most important part of your business. It’s important to recognize that they are likely to feel anxious during this time. Respect that you might see a dip in productivity while employees find their feet with this new way of working.
For businesses that have moved to remote working during the pandemic, communication is more important now than it ever has been. Be over the top with it. This means more video calls, more meetings, and more contact. Consider introducing more chances for team check-ins and let them know you’re readily available for a ‘virtual tea’ or to answer any questions they might have.
Slack is a great communication platform that allows everyone in your company to converse throughout the day. This becomes more than just the general running of projects, but a space to encourage employees to share highlights of the week. For us, this can be any activity from beautiful design work to top-tier media placements.
2. Put steps and a POA in place
If you haven’t already, it’s time to consider how COVID-19 is affecting your business and what you can do to reduce the negative impact. This action plan can be split into 3 manageable steps:
- First, reduce costs
Once coronavirus picked up, we went through all costs line by line to remove unnecessary cash loss. From software providers to fruit deliveries, this is the time to renegotiate with your suppliers. Reach out to all of your suppliers and see if you can obtain a deferral, a payment holiday or a reduction in overall cost. The more money you can scrape back during this time, the better.
- Take advantage of the employee furlough scheme
Do all you can to protect your staff. If you need to, lean on the scheme to cover employee costs and for job reassurance. This can be a lifeline for very small businesses that may see lower cashflow during COVID.
- Reconfigure and reconstruct your business to cover any losses
If business did get worse, how can you operate at a reduced capacity? Work this out in your business so you know how to act if the worst did happen.
Do right by your employees and look at all three of those plans. A well-prepped business owner has to look at the worst and the best scenario.
3. Give your clients options
Like us, our clients are often business owners. They share the same uncertainty and anxieties post-COVID. With this in mind, consider what you, as a business, can do to continue delivering great work during this time.
Every client has a different culture and this pandemic has made that clear across our own client base. For example, one of our motoring insurance clients has wanted to increase their budget and do more work. A number of our travel clients have wanted to defer or stop work completely.
In the PR and marketing world, we came up with 4 different options: pause work, carry on like normal, do less work or do more work. Check-in with your client first to see how they’re coping and what they’ve done already before offering those 4 options.
4. Stick to your original goal
Simply, there was a reason you started. Remember your business ethos and goals throughout this time. There will be an end to this period and normality will return.
5. Remember the importance of a rainy day fund
This pot should cover at least 2 months’ worth of wages and running costs. My accountant advised me to do this early on.
If this wasn’t achievable for your business pre-COVID, be sure to begin working towards having this money in the bank after the pandemic. Agencies, in particular, will always face the challenge of cash flow—regardless of COVID-19. Having the rainy day fund to hand can help ease your own anxieties and protect your business in the long run.